It’s an increasingly competitive digital landscape out there, and if you’re a startup in a competitive space (or even if you have a unique proposition), then you need to do everything you can to gain as much prospect attention and goodwill as you can.
That’s basically what 2 relatively new Entrepreneur articles say. These 2, which were released within the past 2 weeks or so, and written by different authors, have overlapping messages. Their titles give clues: Why Startups Can’t Ignore SEO Anymore and How Website Design Can Make or Break the SEO for Startups.
You gain your prospect’s attention via one of the cornerstones of a good site: outstanding search engine optimization (SEO). That’s one of the first 2 often-forgotten or ignored aspects of a good website.
Now, you may be thinking, “But we have our SEO covered.” That may be the case, but was your site’s SEO just an afterthought, or an intricate part of the site-planning process?
The second one incorporates SEO: it’s user experience (UX). UX can encompass a whole range of criteria, but let me at least define it: It’s the user’s experience, answered by the question, how easy was it for the user to find what they needed or wanted?
It’s easy to understand why these 2 are crucial: without good SEO, not as many prospects will be able to find you. (Yes, you could offset this by having a strong paid advertising and branding campaign, and in the beginning, it might even be better to focus on that.)
And UX is possibly even more crucial, because it’s one thing for your prospect to be able to find you, and it’s another thing for your prospect to be able to find what they need once they arrive at your site. Not only should you perform in user experience, but if you really want to compete, you should outperform–and you do that by making your site memorable.
A Few Good Things to Know About User Experience
Above, I mentioned that you should make your site memorable. But really, that goes beyond your site: your brand should be memorable. Having a unique, easy-to-remember name is a good place to start.
You want your site (and brand) to be easy to remember so that someone can say, “Oh…what’s the name of that site? Yes, that’s it. Let me type it in Google.” Then, ideally, they should be able to find your site on the first page of the search results.
You want your site (and pages of your site) to be easy to find in the search engines. That’s where SEO comes in. (If you’re a new start-up with only one product, then you may not have a big site, but keep this in mind for the long-term, because SEO will have greater and greater importance the bigger your site grows.)
A Few SEO Principles
SEO is far too broad a topic for me to cover in one article, but you may know the basics: keyword research, on-page optimization, and the importance of good content.
I think that, when to comes to doing keyword research, one of the most important things to ask yourself is: “For the person who types in this search query [the keyword we want to optimize this page for], where are they on the buyer’s journey?”
A lot has been said about the buyer’s journey. It’s basically the sequential, step-by-step progression that a person takes from being unaware of a problem (or opportunity) to being a happy customer that sings your praises.
In short, they go from: not even knowing they have a problem (or desire), to being aware of one, to looking for a solution, to considering your solution, to trying or buying or investing in your solution, to being satisfied, to being a repeat customer, and then telling others.
The various keywords you seek to optimize various pages for may each fall along a certain point on this buyer’s journey.
Doing your keyword research from a buyer’s journey paradigm is incredibly insightful. A lot of SEO suspect that there’s a direct (or indirect) correlation between how long a visitor stays on your page, and that page’s ranking. If you can create your SEO content from this paradigm, and speak to your visitor where they are (instead of where you are), you stand to have a satisfied user.
And speaking of satisfied users…
A Few UX (User Experience) Tips
Above, I defined UX as the ease with which a visitor can find what they want or need from your site (or page). That said, there are a few critical things you should consider when it comes to UX:
Lack of distracting load elements. Have you ever had the experience of (especially on a mobile phone) going to a web page, seeing content and then…wait…something loads, pushing the content you wanted to see further down the page?
That’s annoying, especially if you see something you want to click on, and then accidentally click on an ad because the ad loaded at the same moment you were intending to click on something else.
And that makes for a very bad UX.
And actually, this very example is something that many professionals think is addressed in some of Google’s most recent major updates: Core Web Vitals, Page Experience, and the Mobile First philosophy.
The idea is that if you have something that distracts visitors (much like I described above) that is taken into your page’s ranking.
Visually inviting and appealing. I don’t mean that you should have graphics that scream at the visitor and distract them. No, you just want something that’s appealing, conveys a friendly brand, and is inviting.
Simplicity and ease of navigation. Is your site menu easy to find? Are your pages intuitive? If you have many deep pages, do you have a solid categorical or hierarchical structure that helps organize your pages?
So, there you have it. SEO and UX are critical to the success of a startup’s site, especially since you’re in the early stages of your brand’s life.